Email Analysis

Multiple options can reduce open rates

We ensure our headlines can be not only read but understood in a fraction of a second. A few words are all that we need in the preheader. Completion must be just a couple of clicks away. Yet we so often allow the subscriber a multitude of choices in the, largely false, expectation that they can define a product that is just what they want. No wonder email marketing campaigns struggle.

Barry Schwartz’ book, The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, puts forward the well supported supposition that giving people more choice confuses them and often reduces purchases. The book is worth reading, although the title more or less explains his theory. It is relevant to email marketing and might explain why some customers abandon purchases.

The book mentions the range of toothpastes on offer on supermarket shelves. A quick research visit to my local Waitrose shows that, if anything, he underestimated the number available to a shopper. He also referred to a hifi shop where there were 6.5 million different set-ups possible from the products on offer. A visit to Richer Sounds will support his contention.

Multiple Options Can Reduce Open RatesHis counter-intuitive suggestion is that people were happier when they had no choice. For all those of us planning an email marketing campaign, the points he raised have relevance, particularly for the landing page. Who isn’t daunted to see a range of boxes to be completed on many online orders?

What we must beware of is making the purchasing process frustrating. Often a purchaser might be thinking that they just want to buy it, but are presented with yet another hindrance; a multiple-choice box, and often more than one. Our subscribers might have preferred speed with an email marketing campaign. If they’d wanted to browse, they would have gone onto your website, or perhaps the high street.

There is another aspect to lots of choices. It can lead to the belief that just the right specification will make the purchase perfect. The norm is that it will a be better option than Hobson’s Choice, but after spending some time going through the various boxes, they might return the item for no other reason than that it is not as good as they expected. 

There’s a dichotomy we have to resolve. Our subscribers to our email marketing lists want choice, but they want the buying process to be over as quickly as possible. The easy way out is to offer both. 

You can do this by splitting email marketing lists and giving choices to those who want it and, conversely, give just a couple of options to those who don’t want to think. There’s an alternative. Have a standard product, perhaps blue, and, ironically, without bluetooth, at a price that is very reasonable. Make it obvious that if they want to spec the item themselves then all they have to do is ‘click here’ for a page that offers them a wide variety of wonderful options. For an increase in price of course.



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